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Marshall Wittmann, Super Genius . . .
meet Marshall Wittmann, Revolutionary Hamlet.
The Moose ponders the question of defeat.
Is it time to declare that we have lost in Iraq and announce our withdrawal? That is the essential question on the table. Oh, some want to dress the issue up as strategic redeployment or timed withdrawal. But, Mr. Zarqawi will know what is happening.
Laughable. Wittman wrings his hands at what has happened to the Noble Cause. And like with the Trotskyite Neocons, for Wittman 'The Great Idea' itself is beyond question. Rather, we were betrayed.
McCain 2008: A Preview
Why devote a post to one blogger in the Imperial City? Because, Dear Reader, Wittmann is a good barometer and predictor for what you will hear from McCain 2008 as the Silly Season starts anew. [UPDATE: 03/03/06 - Joe Conason on why McCain looks likely for '08]
Here's the chorus, March 2006 (Wittmann Remix):
This Administration failed to level with the American people about the cost of this war. It raised expectations from the very beginning with the despicable “Mission Accomplished” photo op. It failed to provide sufficient troop levels to restore order after the initial invasion. And it is a travesty that Donald Rumsfeld continues to occupy his position after the mistakes made on his watch.
Kristol et al. began the scapegoating back in 2004, calling for Rumsfeld's head.
And so the Revisionism continues. It is an old song. 'If only we had not paused at Smolensk. If only Army Group Center showed more Will. The Italians and Romanians let down our left flank on the Don. It was Koch's policies in the Ukraine, etc.'
But they refuse to acknowledge the fundamental question itself: the flawed gambler's roll of the dice in the first place. No recognition of the risk. And no recognition that the Hamlet pose Wittmann strikes here is particularly galling because he and his Neocon bretheren deliberately and consciously burned our bridges behind us to foreclose any outcome other than this: forward or back, victory or defeat.
Neocons Always Wanted
Civil War: Just on Their Terms
And never the fundamental question of asking the wisdom of igniting a civil war in the heart of an ecumenae
featuring over 1 billion. Make no mistake. The Neocons and Wittman always wanted a civil war. Just on their terms — their delusional romance was that the civil war would be between their joyous, newly empowered liberated democrats, filled with fervor and Lockean empowerment (and solidarity with Israel — Chalabi promised!), and the existing regimes, belief systems and tribal loyalties.
Instead, here's Hamlet's riposte to the judgment of history:
Some opponents of the war are smugly chortling that “we told you so.” Perhaps. But, these opponents do not necessarily occupy the strategic nor moral high ground. Do they really think that any post-9/11 President would allow Saddam to continue to taunt the West with the possibility of WMD? Do they believe that the realist notion of stability in the Middle East is a solution?
Note the false binaries here. Either invade Iraq or do nothing. Either topple Saddam, a secular opponent of Islamic fundamentalism, or accept 'stability' (with all that Wittman intends to apply with that code word smear).
Wittman's Hamlet pose is just the beginning. The cognitive dissoance of these people accepting the consequences of their reckless policies will be fearsome. And the spin will be furious. The vitriolic hunt for scapegoats to deflect blame is just beginning. It will be awesome to behold in its ferocity.
But Wittman's biggest disappointment? His biggest let down? He never got his Sportspalast speech. He never got to hear the call for 'Total War'.
At least not yet. This story — the fallout from the reckless romantic adventure in the Middle East — is just the beginning. Act II and III have not yet begun.
How would Wittman reply to your critique? He probabably would not, but since he offers some replies to various straw man contenders, unrecognizable save in his own mind, it may be worth speculating. Perhaps he would be amused by your Hamletizing him. Afterall, would not Wittman defend King Claudius for wisely launching a pre-emptive taking out of Hamlet's father? Once that deed was done, did not Hamlet's father let Hamlet know that he was paying a dear price in the beyond, for his high crimes and misdemeanors in earth. Would not Wittman point to that ghostly admission, as an after the fact justification for Claudius's pre-emptive attack, just as he can point to Saddam in jail with his crimes itemized by Iraqis as justification for his advocacy of pre-emption? So maybe Wittman would be amused to see you place him in the role of the Danish flip flopper. But maybe that's not fair to the Dane either. Much of his indecision seems to be his ruse de guerre and his body count at the end of the show may say more than hie words during the show. All in all, it seems Wittman will always be able to say that he did not fail, since his ideas were never really tried. Many of the liberals who went along with the war say the same thing.
So long as the Iraq war is cast as an idea, rather than the reality that it is, it will always be open to new interpetions and defenses. If McCain is President, then it will be just a matter of time before he is critiqued since he will have to accept certain realities. So Wittman can laugh off being called Hamlet and he can also point to our misspelling above of the word “probably,” not to mention the nonsensical sounding “in earth” phrase. Meanwhile many real soldiers, sailors and Marines fight and in many cases die and suffer in a war that one of Wittman's esteemed collegues has already called a “not serious” effort. Meanwhile Buckley 'postulates' defeat. Wittman can blame Rumsfeld. But he knows that the base will blame those who did not want to go in the first place.
I agree with Gotham Image.
hamlet is the right label. sad
The point that Wittman will be able to say, like Trotskyites said of Stalin as aberration, our ideas were never tried, is a good one. My guess is that you are correct and that this will be the Line coming from them.
Since it seems Bush intended to go to Iraq from the begining (according to many good sources), the ideologues may have just firmed up and gave shape to the arguments. One of Bush's favored speech lines is “freedom is on the march.” It always sounded odd to us. Afterall, who talks that way? Maybe if 'freedom' had any choice in the matter the last thing 'freedom' would want to do is go marching. “Freedom is sitting down, relaxing, and enjoying itself,” seems more sensible, but that's just our opinion. Anyway, this is just a guess, but that odd phrase (Bush loves it)h may have come from John Dewey's “Truth Is On The March,” which was written in the 30s as a defense for Trotsky. Dewey may have been referencing Zola, who used the same phrase in J'accuse. Truth marching seems to make more sense than Freedom marching. Anyway, Wittman and co. will not be alone when they distance themselves from Bush. Many of the liberals who went along with the war started shaking their heads and complaining that Bush did not fight the war they way wanted. This always seemed disingenuous since they knew Bush was President, and they knew how he operated. Some of them seem to have wanted the war, along with the oportunity to complain about Bush's deceptions and policies. Can't prove that, but it just seemed like that's the only way to explain why so many intelligent people could implausibly complaine about being shocked by no wmd and no 911 links and no pleasant occupation. Were they all fooled by Bush?
3 points in response and mostly agreement. First, I agree with the basic premise in the scripts on your hilarious and excellent site — i.e., Bush viz-a-viz his advisors/courtiers in some respects.
Second, my own sense is that for many in October 2002, the decision to vote on the war was actually not a major one. The scuttlebut then and now was that most Democrats wanted the vote out of the way for 2002 November so they could campaign on what they thought were winning issues — health care, education, social security, etc. Some of the anger I suspect is that they are now forced to have to explain what was essentially an abrogation of their duty of care to vote wisely for the most serious thing a senator can do — authorize war.
Third, another aspect of marching is its inherent militarism and implicit subordination of the individual to a larger purpose or will. Rather than Zola (which is an excellent reference and I think it works), I would say that the political theater and imagery deployed by the regime might suggest a 1922 March on Rome as well. Certainly, the pagaentry and 'man in the arena' stagecraft of 2004 NYC had some elements of that authoritarian cultism about it.
I suspect, however, that Gerson and Bush personally use 'march' in its evangelical christian sense. And the repition of the term part of Bush's code speak to his base.
Wittman is the political Zeitgeistan par excellence. He feels where the political winds are blowing and adjusts his position. But even he might prove to be wrong (on Maccain). Re marching. The only place Americans like to march to are shopping malls...
Agree with Dr. Hadar that people prob. prefer not to march in the real sense, but so long as it's presented as something not real, just an image, that's probably the appeal of the line. The Pres. told people to go about their biz, etc. We were just guessing, but when Zola said 'truth on the march,' it made sense in context because his point was that truth was a powerful force akin to marching and it would eventually plow past the cover up. He was also talking about a very specifice case, with the real facts on his the side. So his evocative phrase makes sense. Freedom is also a force, but it always has been cast as a force at odds with marching. At least it used to be. That's why that line seems not to make sense, even though it gets applause. How can you argue with the phrase if doesn't make sense, but people like it and it is said with conviction and no opposition? It's not an argument tethered to anything specific. That may be the point. Maybe there is a whole theory to back up such a point, if that is the point. Maybe that's why the phrase works on many levels; because it actually does not work in the academic sense. Afterall, this conflict is not declared by congress, so it's goals seem to shift from the abstract to the more concrete, and then back a bit. It's always hard to say where any historical figure would be on today's issues. Leave that up to Hitch to tell us in his inimitable way, but if the spirit of truth was Zola's concern, which is what we were taught, and if his famous line inspired Dewey, and Dewey's line inspired the Admin (which is just a guess), then he might say 'wait a sec, let's back up, what I was talking about was truth.' Bush is normally good at co-opting just a few notions behind ideas. Somewhat related in a vague way, he did get challanged trying to co-opt during the King funeral, but that may have helped him because he may have looked like he was trying to reach out but got rebuffed, etc. Anyway, whenever the Pres. says something that makes no sense or sounds like something that would elicit scorn if Clinton said it, his supporters just say, “What he meant was...” So he ends up getting credit for what he says and the vague spirit behind it. Then he also gets credit forhe supposed well intention behind the errors in what he said. That's what makes him so unique - even conservatives like author of “Imposter” still say they would probably vote for him because they feel they have no choice. The Dems are hopeless trying to respond to this. They are still confused and seem lost, maybe because you cannot argue with a mood, which is what he really seems to be conveying. Don't know enough about Wittman, so cannot really argue, just guess that he is committed to a certain course and that gives him a big advantage over Dems and others, who are more divided.